Monday, March 11, 2013

Are You Doing Nothing?

There are two Fukushima Dai'ichi nuclear power plant meltdown decontamination stories.

The first is the damn serious one of the decontamination of everything in the immediate vicinity of the Fukushima Dai'ichi reactors. (Link)

The second is the farcical cleanup of areas downwind of the plant, with imaginary unsafe dosage levels, the most irregular of irregular workers and of course, organized crime syndicates playing their parts. (Link)

The real secret of the latter cleanup: the best thing to do would be...nothing.

The major components of the windborne contamination were Cesium 134 and Cesium 137. Cesium 134 has a half-life of 2 years; Cesium 137 has a half-life of 30 years.

By doing absolutely nothing, radiation levels have in two years's time dropped by 25% in the affected areas away from the Fukushima Power Station. In another two years, another 13% of the radioactive material will be gone. After the end of 10 years, only 7% of the original amount of Cesium 134 will be left.

Of course, more than half of the Cesium 137 will be remaining in 10 years' time. However, with Cesiuum 137's low rate of decay, radioactivity will fall below concern level in all but the areas in the band running from Futaba on the coast to Iidate in the mountains.

As we know though, doing nothing does not win one votes in democratic elections. The scatterbrained clean up effort also appeals to the ideology of diligence -- that through hard work and determination, one can make the seemingly impossible, possible.

So the show is sure to go on.

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